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“The best music is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with.”
- Bruce Springsteen -

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#80 Human Touch by Bruce Springsteen

Last night I watched the Kennedy Center Honors. During the tribute to Mr. Springsteen, I found myself rather emotional. He is just a man. Just a person. So, why the outpouring of so much adoration and tears? Why the moving tribute to this boy from New Jersey? The Kennedy honor highlighted how Springsteen’s music is woven into the fabric of America and has proven to be a voice for the lost ideals and values America is supposed to stand for. But it’s so much more than that. Springsteen has provided us with something that transcends American ideals or political ideology. He has touched us in a place that few people know how to reach. He has offered us so graciously “just a little of that human touch”.

Because he was willing to take his search, his life’s struggle and expose his pain to the world through his art, he has drawn thousands upon thousands of souls to his music, and consequently to himself. He doesn’t just sing about the “losers” of the world, providing them with some sense of redemption, a sense of belonging and hope, rather he is one of these lost souls in search of truth, in search of understanding. His personal journey has been painted on a life size canvas for all to see, to hear, to feel. This willingness to be vulnerable and honest in front of the world has touched the lives of so many, touched them in that tender place, that place that when you allow yourself to go there makes you want to curl up in the fetal position and just cry, cry, cry. It is that same place that also stirs you from the safety of sleep and makes you believe in yourself, in your fellow man, and in life again.

What can we learn from such an artist? What can we learn about humanity from what he has given to the world? Most of life is lived posturing, pretending, trying to be something we are not, presenting a front that is “greater” than what lives inside of us. We try so hard to run from those things that live at the heart of our humanity and live stoic lives of quiet desperation in an effort to maintain and support some unwritten rule that says true feelings are not allowed. They are not appropriate. They are not politically, socially, emotionally correct. This is why we embalm our dead, dress them in their best outfit, surround them with flowers and cry softly into our Kleenex as people say, “death is a part of life”, “he’s in a better place”... This is not living! Where is the raw passion? Where is the “surrender” to natural desire and emotion? Why can’t we too live in that place that brings us together and closer to our humanity rather than isolating one another at the times we need honest human connection the most?

“You can’t shut off the risk and the pain” without losing the possibility for human connection. It is connection we are all searching for and connection we all push away. When someone like Springsteen sings about all those things we have tucked down deep inside of us, the bells of truth begin to ring. We know there is truth. We know therein lies our secrets, our desires, our pains. We know in our darkest of hours, “when all the answers they don’t amount to much”, we are not alone. We have been touched by someone else who has taken a chance at giving it all away. That is life saving. That is the “human touch”.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Highway Patrolman

#79 Highway Patrolman by Bruce Springsteen

“Franky ain’t no good”. How often do we hear: A man who kills is bad, but a soldier fighting for his country is good? How simple those words are, falling way short of any understanding of the complexity and experience of human behavior.

Joe, however, can see something more to Franky than just the oats he’s sewn. The power of his blood ties redeem Franky over and over again offering him grace when the world has run dry of forgiveness. Part of Franky lives inside Joe and Joe’s “goodness” has also lived in his brother. It is this bond that allows Joe to set aside his role, his defined, superficial status, and retain a piece of his humanity, the humanity both he and Frankie were born with and both struggle to keep.

When the rest of the world has written someone like Franky off, he is still lovable to his brother, his own blood. Joe’s love for Franky redeems not only his brother and himself but the human race as well. This kind of love sees above everything convoluted we call life and down into the deep wells of human motivations and actions. It strips bare a soul longing to make sense of the world he was forced to face and gives him a second chance, and a third, and a fourth…

Don’t we all long to be loved that way?

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

#78 Highway 29 by Bruce Springsteen

A man weary of life gives way to the chase giving permission for the dark voices of his soul to rise, to converge, and to have their way with him. He has lost sight of the land before or beneath him. Feeling he has no choice left but to surrender to the desperation, to the howling ghosts within, to the madness that comes to us all in various disguises, the madness that is the inevitable outcome of running away from the ache that lives inside those born into life paying for another’s mistakes, he frees himself to their forces and welcomes them with the complete awareness that there is only one way it will end for him.

The realization of his life deal gone rancid, drives him down into the trenches of the cold decay of humanity, where actions have no consequence, where the numbing of one’s mind, body, and soul is the only way to shut off the pain and leaves no room for empathy of another’s, where dreams are lost and never returned, where hope’s light has no voice. He is left believing he would be better off dead, a lonely, liberating, and final journey away from sin and pain.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Friday, December 4, 2009

#77 Held Up Without A Gun by Bruce Springsteen

“How can a poor man stand such times and live?”

To be poor in America couldn’t be described any clearer than as being “held up without a gun”. Every day it just gets harder and harder. Someone is always taking from them what they don’t already have. Buying the necessities of life – food, clothing, and unfortunately gas – feels like you’re getting robbed. A lot of take and very little give.

Springsteen also doesn’t fail to recognize the artist’s plight. In a culture that does not recognize art or the pursuit of passions as “practical” ways to make a living (until you become super famous of course then you can turn out art whenever you feel like it – whether it’s good or crap and maintain a more than decent lifestyle), artists are forced to compromise, to depend on the society’s system of business first, and a piece of their soul slowly dies.

But who cares about soul right? Who cares about passion and creativity and all the stuff that makes being human worthwhile? There are bills to pay and there is money to be made. There are things to buy and people to make rich. So strap on your handcuffs, do what I say and no one gets hurt. Ok well, someone will get hurt, just not me with the pistol in my hand. Go on, what are you waiting for? Do what I say – one wrong move and not even God can help you then…

For Complete Lyrics Visit: